Engulfed in a cloud of readies: Sepp Blatter and Fifa given ultimate pay-off by Lee Nelson

Comedian Simon Brodkin nailed the Fifa malaise with his fake banknote stunt in Zurich

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The Independent Football

There is just something about bank notes flung up into the air, drifting slowly down to earth, that feels like the movies. Whether it is Leonardo Di Caprio in The Wolf of Wall Street or Floyd Mayweather in a Los Angeles strip club, or - admittedly further down the scale - that bit of The Crystal Maze when contestants had to grab swirling eddies of fake notes. There is nothing quite like it to express excess, greed, wild abandon or just the fact you’re having a damn good time.

Yet for Sepp Blatter at Fifa House, the image of him sat among big green banknotes floating gently around him like Zurich snow was just not the look. Not with the FBI at his door and the Swiss forensic accountants closing in. Blatter is so rich he could probably afford to have Kanye West play his 80th birthday party if he so wanted but at this moment in time he really does not need to look like he is in a rap music video.

Perhaps it was reading too much into the lack of urgency with which his Fifa colleagues moved over to intervene but Simon Brodkin, the British comedian/prankster seemed to have more time to finish the job than Stoke City’s strikers on the last day of last season.

Brodkin, as his alter ego Lee Nelson, already had the hesitant hand of a Fifa official on his arm when he turned and launched his notes over the head of Blatter. He did so with a lame joke thanking the Fifa president for “North Korea 2026” and from there, “Lee Nelson” promptly stayed lodged at the top of the UK Twitter trends for the next six hours. Job done, as far as he was concerned.

As pictures go it presented the photographers in the room with the most arresting image captured in Fifa House’s vast auditorium since at least 2 June when Blatter announced his resignation. Then he had walked uncertainly to an open door filled with a preternatural light, looking every inch like a much-loved but incurable grandfather in a promotional leaflet for an assisted dying clinic.

Say what you like about Brodkin but he nailed it this time. When most people think about Fifa these days, complacent old men being showered with bank notes is exactly what springs to mind. Blatter returned to the stage minutes later to drone on about taskforces and integrity checks but the day’s work had already been done. Sepp engulfed in a cloud of readies. Yep, that is Fifa, right there.

Later on, Blatter almost went the full Alan Partridge when he announced, not for the first time it should be said, that he wished to become a “radio journalist” after 26 February when his successor will be elected. It is not hard to imagine him taking the late morning slot on North Swiss Digital, reminiscing about all those crooks, bluffers and bagmen he was obliged to deal with over the years, interspersed with a non-challenging playlist of easy listening.

Of course, even in his dotage, Alan was unable to resist the occasional bit of score-settling or territory marking and you have to wonder whether Blatter will be the same. Even now his reluctance to name names, or dish out blame, borders on the obsessive. The banknote stunt did not get a second mention when Blatter returned to the stage and the thought did occur whether somewhere in the vast Fifa Zurich complex there is a purpose-built dungeon for people who pull tricks like Brodkin’s.

Soon, Blatter was embarking once again on one of his clanking football analogies intended to explain his leadership of Fifa. But he had lost the day, upstaged on his home turf, and made to look vulnerable, silly, old, corrupt. Brodkin’s hijack might have been dirty trick but then this is, after all, a dirty organisation.

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